Over the years I have attended meetings which could have had more successful outcomes if the organisers had taken just a bit more time in planning and preparation.
When organisations have to think carefully about money every little helps. Here are some tips for getting a bigger bang for your meeting buck by investing in a small extra amount of time and planning.
- Think about who will be coming and how to make sure you get the audience and the attendance you want. Is the meeting limited to people with one impairment type or will there be several?
- What sort of venue will you need? Basic physical access might not be the only consideration, e.g. good acoustics for people with hearing impairments might be needed.
- What time of day or evening will you hold the meeting? This might depend on how far people need to travel and how they get there. In winter people with arthritis might not find an early start easy. Those who need a high level of personal assistance may not favour an early start.
- If you are providing food make sure you think about catering options for people who need particular food, and I don’t just mean vegetarians.
- Have you allowed enough lead time to book a sign interpreter? They are scarce in some areas.
- When sending invitations by email in particular make them accessible, if you must send a pdf make sure the same information is included in the body of the email.
- In the interests of good community relations when your invitation asks about people’s disability related needs don’t ask for ‘special’ needs. You could ask for ‘disability,’ ‘diet,’ ‘information,’ or ‘particular’ needs.
- What kind of meeting process will you use? Will it exclude anyone? Presenters may need to be briefed on their audience and a variety of presentation styles and methods are useful.
- Are the breaks adequate for people who might need assistance with toileting or eating?
- Handouts and other material will need some thought. They could be emailed in advance for blind attendees or for people who need support to participate. Agendas might need to be in large print for some. Meeting outcomes may need to be provided in a variety of formats.
I intend to write more on this subject, here and on the AccEase web site so watch this space.